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The Privilege to Pollute: Military Impunity and PFAS contamination in Southern Colorado

Authors: Kaleb Pietkoski*,
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Pollution, PFAS, Environmental Justice, Military Impunity
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In my research, I share how local communities in southern Colorado are feeling the impact of
Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their water supply by increases in rare cancers, thyroid and kidney complications, and rises in mortality (Rogers, 2016). PFAS have been frequently used by the Department of Defense at military bases as a fire-firefighting agent used in trainings and real-life scenarios starting in the 1970’s. This has led to the highest rates of PFAS contaminated water supplies being located near military bases where Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) containing PFAS chemicals were used (Dauchy, 2018). Unfortunately, once a water supply is contaminated with PFAS chemicals it is difficult, and sometimes impossible to remove the chemicals from the water supply (Daly, 2018). Given the health impacts of PFAS, the EPA should be a main proponent of clean-up regarding these chemicals. Yet, the EPA’s stance is quite precarious since they have taken no firm, legally binding stance on the chemicals nationally. This inaction by the EPA leaves communities, both locally in Colorado and nationally in limbo as 43 states now face areas with PFAS water contamination.

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